With so many horses I recommend ground work and so many owners seem to get a look of dread in their 👀 but why, what are they so afraid of? Sometimes it’s because owners don’t understand how to do it or think they are going to do it wrong, they underestimated or don’t understand the benefits of ground work, they don’t know what they are looking for to assess their horse or choose which exercises are required for their issues. Sometimes it’s seen as a step back, but it’s not, far from it, it’s a big step in the right direction for your horse. They sometimes feel disheartened like they have done something wrong and have got to start again, and sometimes this is the case, their horses’ overall posture, dynamic balance, stability, proprioception, global body mechanics needs some work before these break downs cause a problem or injury. Ground work is not just reserved for youngsters, retired, classical horses, those undergoing injury rehab, it’s beneficial to all.
As well as major physical benefits I’m going to discuss shortly, horses enjoy groundwork, it provides variety to their workload, it builds an amazing bond between you and a better connection which is so important to build a harmonious relationship.
A lot of cases I work with, I often recommend to riders/owners that they get off their horses back for at least a month or longer depending on their issues to complete a course of ground work to build on strength, condition, and training or to be able to release and realign the body. Do not see this as a step back but as a massive step forward, as you doing the right thing for your horse, getting them to a position of having better global body mechanics, better symmetry, posture, proprioception, balance and straightness to be able to carry themselves better and to be in a stronger position to carry a rider.
I see this the biggest step forward you will take for your horse, to try to ensure career longevity, injury and pathology prevention, (as much as we can with horses), creating a strong, supple, conditioned and coordinated body. Instead of having to rehabilitate your horse due to injury and playing catch up which depending on the injury sometimes this isn’t ever fully successful. Once the body has been injured it sometimes never fully recovers it is always slightly weaker, with more scar tissue and less range of motion, so why not take the time to give your horse this little time to develop correctly without the added weight of a rider not matter what their age, level, discipline.
From the ground you can see their progress, their areas of weakness their evasions. We can take this visual feedback from what we can see and feel on the ground and extrapolate this when we get back on board. So actually, working your horse from the between 1-2 months is an average as over this sort of time frame we can see muscle development and biodynamic adaptations and changes.
Groundwork most definitely does not mean lunging on a circle for 30 minutes as this will do your horse no favours. A mix of some lunging, long reining, therapeutic groundwork patterns, lateral work, longitudinal stretch, core engagement work, straightness training, corrective pole work exercises specific to your horses’ individual needs, a range of active and passive stretches, functional training of the thoracic sling and recoil systems, and much more.
Once you start back to reintroducing ridden work, ground work is still advised at least once/twice per week for all horses no matter what discipline, to continue this education, for the horse to exercise without the weight of saddle and rider putting the spine into extension, to provide you with the visual feedback as to what you are feeling when you ride, and to continue to form the all important connection between you.
If you are not sure you know what you are doing or what specific exercises your horse needs, where or how their posture or movement is lacking, how to assess it, how to lunge or long rein effectively why not book a lesson. I offer ground work lessons and integrated ground/ ridden tuition to work on your horses individual biomechanical needs. Don’t be afraid any more 😱😈👻🎃👹💀🧟🧛🦹🕷️🦇